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To borrow from Dickens, Oakland County, Michigan has, in the last few years, seen “the best of times. . . [and] the worst of times.” But, to borrow from the Beatles, “It’s getting better all the time.”

In his annual State of the County address for 2015, Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson, spoke glowingly of the county’s economic recovery and announced a $75 million property tax cut over the next several years. This is good news for property owners and developers alike. 

According to an article in the November 2, 2014 issue of Crain’s Detroit Business, the residential housing market in Oakland County has rebounded nicely since the on-set of the recession. In recent years, large inventories of single-family housing had conspired with the recession to drive prices down dramatically. The median sales price for single-family homes in 2006 was $191,554. In 2009, the median price was $96,621, which rose to $165,514 in 2013. Sales prices are still significantly lower than pre-recession numbers, but prices are definitely getting better. 

The commercial market is showing signs of recovery as well, although the Crain’s article noted that the commercial office market, in particular, has actually gotten worse depending on the statistic you choose. For example, while 2014 vacancy rates are slightly better than in 2009, average rental asking prices are more than one dollar less in 2014 as compared to 2009. 

Based on my own experience over the last year, the market for industrial properties in Oakland County is very strong, with both sales and leasing being very active. In conversations with local brokers and bankers I have been told that the inventory of available industrial space in Oakland County is very low. The good news is that new construction of R&D light industrial facilities is returning to Oakland County. Crain’s noted at least five significant new builds in the last few years, and McDonald Hopkins’ Oakland County office has been involved in numerous sales, acquisitions, leases and loans involving new and existing industrial space in the last year. It would appear that retail leasing and, to a lesser extent, retail development, is on the up-swing as well.

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